tv Dateline NBC NBC March 20, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
[ male announcer ] a world you can't predict... demands a car you can trust. the e-class. see your authorized mercedes-benz dealer for exceptional offers through mercedes-benz financial services. for exceptional offers >> i am sure everyone recognizes it from previous time's. >> last fall, the son of the princess of wales asked kate middleton for her hand. >> obviously she is not going to be around to follow the fun and excitement of this. this is my way of keeping her sort of close to it all. >> she was, after all, a huge presence in his life as a young boy, their bond exceptionally
close. as prince william and kate prepare for their big day, we can't help but remember, shy diana spencer and her storied engagement to prince charles. july 21, 1981. a day of royal karjs, silk taf et a dresses and diamond tiara. hard to remember now. in that moment, it seemed like the perfect story book romance. >> something you dream about, and it was all there in reality. >> all the pop p, all the pageantry, it had everything. >> it is the stuff of which fairy tales of made. >> tonight, date line takes a step back in time to the last wedding of the century. >> i charles flip arthur george. >> after all this time, behind the scene details from the people that made that fan at that see a reality, including a designer of that dress with the 25 foot train. >> it was a simple phone call.
would you do the honor of making her wedding gown. can you imagine? and yes! >> the little bridesmade that stole everyone's heart. >> i remember staring at my feet up the aisle, trying not to trip on her train. >> one of diana's specially invited guests. >> i get chills thinking about it now. nobody deserved it more. this summer marks the 30th anniversary of charles marrying diana. this is your chance to relive the grandest royal wedding of them all. it is an intimate look back at that extraordinary moment when a young bride went from shy di to proud princess. as we glance back, maybe we'll glean some clues about the royal wedding to come. once upon a time not so long
ago, there lived a prince, son of queen elizabeth. he had become the most eligible bachelor in the world. >> what was he like in those days? >> he was good-looking and he was great fun. >> eve pollard is a journalist and jormer editor of the british paper, the sunday mirror. >> there are amazing pictures swimming in australia and girls rushing up and him dancing. i mean, he was prince charming. every year, any girl seen near him was dissected to see if she could be a future princess of wales. >> as they dodged questions, diana spencer moved from her home to london. lady diana, daughter of the eighth earl of spencer from one of the most aris tow krat i can
families in england. she shared this flat with three friends, charging them rent, setting up a regular house cleaning rotation. as a joke, even pinned a sign to her bedroom door that said chief chick. >> patrick general son would later become her private secretary. >> she used to reminisce about the normality of that life sharing the flat with three girlfriends. she looked back on that with a wistful memory. >> she was part of the sloane rangers. >> that would be somebody that might not be a lady or dutchess or have a title, might be from land of gentry, from old money an old waelt. >> for someone running in those
circles, she lived modestly, taking a job teaching kindergarten in fall of 1979. >> she had a magical touch with children. she certainly was very warm and cozy to be around. >> diana loved working with children. so much so that she went looking for a second job. she showed up on this little street to apply for a position as a nanny. >> so now you open the door and you see this vision on the doorstep. >> mary robertson is an american who was living in london with her husband pat and their six month old son, patrick. she found diana through an agency. >> she was lovely. that wonderful glossy hair, looking up from under those signature bangs, and she said well, you know, mrs. robertson, it is very nice to meet you. and she came in.
well, i described the job, very basic child care, and the hours and so on. what was remarkable, she was totally focused on patrick. >> so you had no idea she came from nobility. >> not at all. she went out of her way the next few months not to leave clues or tips. >> she made one request mary thought was unusual. she didn't want to baby-sit in the evenings or weekends. it was only later in september of 1980 she realized way. >> she came in the door with patrick on her hip. told me when i left for work that morning, i would find reporters and photographers at the end of the little dead end street where we lived. i said good grief, what have you done? she said i spent last weekend at balmoral. i was seeing prince charles.
then a pause. but he didn't invite me, his mother did. >> diana, now 19 years old, had seen prince charles on a number of occasions, but the press didn't notice. now her weekends visiting the prince at balmoral, the queen's residence in scott land, was big news. >> you walk out the door, what did you see? >> i see reporters and photographers and i was nervous about diana and patrick walking on busy city streets. and bless her heart, they followed her around. but she always got patrick home safe and sound. >> mary robertson's young nanny was now the latest in a series of women linked to prince charles. the press speculation began. would she be the one? >> well, not if you ask diana. >> i said my gosh, diana. do you think anything will develop? and she said i don't think so. he's 31, and i'm only 19. i don't think he'd look twice at
me. >> coming up, shy di becomes a beaming bride to be. the engagement, the excitement and an awkward moment. >> i am amazed that she is brave enough to take me on. >> and i suppose in love? >> of course. >> whatever in love means, you know. >> when royal invitation continues [ female announcer ] before the mascara, under the makeup,
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spencer and the spotlight she endured 30 years ago. diana was only 19 and had been dating prince charles for eight months. the tabloids had dubbed her shy di for her quiet unassuming manner. >> that was an extraordinary period. >> martin bashir now with nbc news interviewed diana in the '90s. >> in britain there are 11 daily national newspapers, 11. on an island with 50 million people, and each national newspaper had a dedicated set of royal correspondents and everywhere she goes she's followed by a mob of reporters. >> reporter: but in february 1981 after months of speculation by the press, prince charles had some real news. >> buckingham plaza announced this morning the 32-year-old
heir to the british throne will marry 19-year-old lady diana spencer. >> by then mary robertson and her family had said good-bye to their nanny diana and moved back home to the united states. when did you hear the news that diana and charles had been engaged? >> i was on pins and needles. i knew diana was on pins and needles, and then one day in february i got a phone call from a girlfriend in london who just blurted out, your girl made it. and i just -- i literally leapt and i just -- i literally wept for joy. i could not have been more excited if had been my own child. >> mary watched that day as the couple appeared together at buckingham palace for an interview. >> did you find it a very hard decision, lady diana? >> i had a long time to think about it because i knew the pressure was on both of us. and it wasn't a difficult decision in the end. it's what i wanted. it's what i want.
>> and diana displayed that engagement ring. >> it is a sapphire. >> the body language of that is so extraordinary. there's prince charles already i think in a very, very calm about life, or very, very used to cameras and there is diana who's got her arms up a lot protecting herself ready practicing that lilg downward look she would do so brilliantly. >> it's a tremendous change for someone of 19 to make all of a sudden, the transition. >> it is but i've had a small run-up to it all in the last six months. >> diana had months but kate middleton has had years for the run-up for her engagement. their interview last november made for a bit of déjà vu. >> it's nerve-racking because i don't know what i'm sort of -- i don't know the ropes really. william is used to it but, no,
i'm willing to learn quickly and work hard. >> she'll do really well. >> i think she seemed nervous but i think it was good that there were some nerves there. i don't think it would have gone down well if she came down confident. >> robert is the author of the book "william & kate." >> i knew the scope of the question, what they were going to be before they did the interview but there was not going to be any moments like when charles said "whatever in love means." >> that now infamous answer came when he was asked a fairly simple question. >> i'm amazed she's been brave enough to take me on. >> and i suppose in love? >> of course. >> whatever in love means. >> yes. >> eve pollard says that moment has been overanalyzed. >> i actually think he was in love with her. i actually don't think that was a way of him getting out of it. he's very literal. he's very, very well educated
and he would look at that sentence and think what does it really mean. what does that really describe. >> being philosophical. >> he would be very philosophical about that phrase absolutely. i don't think it meant for a moment that he wasn't in love with her. >> that's interesting because a lot of people think that he never returned the love that she was in love with him but not vice versa. >> i think he did return the love. >> soon after her engagement diana sent mary robertson this letter on buckingham palace stationery and included a signed photo still calling her mrs. robertson she wrote i am on a cloud at the moment and swamped with letters and telegrams. i know you'd love my ring. only wish i could show it to you and lots of love, diana. >> they had moved her into the palace so that she was now free of the press and she was just giddy with excitement. >> a few weeks later mary received something else. >> this arrives in the mail. it's from the lord chamberlain's office.
addressed in this very nice calligraphy and here it is with its lovely little gold edge. >> the royal invitations were going out. diana had a wedding to plan. and nothing to wear. coming up -- >> it was just aching for epic dress. >> the drama over the dress. designers, decoys and diana's secret identity. >> you called her deborah. >> deborah. >> when "dateline" continues. is an 8.4-inch touch screen that lets you control the stereo volume, radio tuning, climate controls, turn-by-turn navigation, and bluetooth activation -- technology inside technology controlling more technology. welcome to the future. now lease the new 2011 dodge journey mainstreet for $299 a month for well-qualified lessees. hi, trust fund baby. hi, nobody. i just stole this lunch from the freezer.
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♪ as prince william and kate middleton plan their big day, the big question on everyone's lips has been, who will design the wedding dress? so far she's kept it a secret. but that hasn't stopped the speculation. >> my guess is it will be quite formal although i don't think we'll have a diana copy type thing. >> diana faced the same dilemma 30 years ago, how to keep the dress a surprise for the groom and the world. luckily she found two young designers who were up to the task. in the early '80s david and elizabeth emanuel were just starting to make their name in fashion with a small couture shop here in mayfair, one of the chicest areas of london. diana chose an emanuel blouse
for her official engagement photos and then this strapless black gown for a night out with prince charles. >> it was the first time you saw an official engagement with the prince of wales or prince charles. this limousine pulled up. the paparazzi went nuts and out stepped this movie star. >> but their biggest commission came with one phone call. did she call you up? >> it was a simple phone call. would we do the honor of making her wedding gown? can you imagine? um, yes, yes. >> why did she choose you? >> i'd like to think it was the emanuel look and the emanuel look at that time was "gone with the wind." it was romantic, it was full-blown crinoline, silk roses and use a lot of antique lace, beading. we just wanted women to look beautiful. >> they were determined to design the dress in complete
secrecy as diana requested so they developed their own cloak and dagger methods. they hired security guards, bought a special safe for the dress and kept shades down at their shop at all times. they even created a code name for diana. you called her deborah? >> deborah, in house because we didn't want it leaked out that, you know, oh, we've got to -- don't forget we have a fitting with deborah and always deborah and she's written in the book, in the diary as deborah's coming in. >> and they had other tricks to throw the press off their trail. >> we put pale silk in there or different threads. >> in the garbage so people -- reporters would find it. >> it's going to be pink, you know. >> did they write that? >> oh, yeah, of course. >> how do you go about designing this dress. >> no red tape. no pomp and circumstance. lots of sitting on the carpet talking to diana, and then we did some research. we went through the royal brides. >> the emanuels looked back at a number of wedding dresses in english history paying close attention to this gown worn by queen victoria.
>> and in the end she decided that she wanted, what, she wanted the tight bodice and big puffy sleeves. >> we wanted drama, drama. absolutely. >> their final design was dramatic indeed. a flowing ivory gown of silk taffeta and lace with a boned bodice to enhance diana's shape, the emanuels had a team of seamstresses working with them all of them sworn to secrecy. >> it was a labor of love. we were very lucky. we had two very experienced seamstresses, but hours and hours of lace, all that lace frill sprinkled with sequins. >> hand sewn. >> 10,000 sequins were sewn on to the veil alone but they adhered to bridal tradition. did you do something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue? >> absolutely. something old, i think that
was the spmicefar ly tiara, something old. new was the obviously the wedding gown. something borrowed. queen mary's lace in the royal family. and something blue we stitched in a little satin bow -- >> a blue bow. >> knowing she's going to be the princess of wales we asked the jeweler to make a horseshoe in welsh gold. >> they were to design the bridesmaids dresses as well. she chose her kindergarten pupil clementine hambro as the youngest of her five bridesmaids. what the first moment you recall. >> i have these memories of going to these fittings with my mum and diana would be there. so i just remember sort of hanging out with just all these kids and putting on pretty dresses really which is very's exciting thing for a 5-year-old. >> royal weddings had traditionally been held at westminster abbey but prince charles broke precedent and chose st. paul's cathedral because it could accommodate so many more guests. st. paul's also had a wider, longer aisle for diana to travel
up which gave the emanuels an opportunity for a dramatic addition to their design, the bridal train. >> it was just aching for an epic dress and there was a moment during these design sessions and i said, well, look, we found out the largest one in our detection work of royal brides was about 20 foot. diana said, oh, 10 foot, envision a modern girl, you know, dragging 20 foot behind her, i said. kind of a bit boring. should we make it bigger? yes, let's make it bigger. over 25 foot. >> the secrecy about the dress extended to the other members of diana's team, couture shoe designer clive shilton worked with his partner judy smith on the handmade shoes to match the dress with one hitch. >> i was never shown the design of the dress. >> you had no idea what the dress would look like. >> no idea what the dress would be like, however, one had to sort of come up with a design that you thought the dress was
going to look like. >> the emanuels gave them a bit of silk taffeta, lace and sequins that would be used in the final design, the rest was guesswork and delicate craftsmanship. so sequins, how many tiny little sequins did you put on the shoe. >> 542. >> not that anyone is counting. >> not that anyone is counting. >> 542. >> and we sewed the little pearls as well. >> they gave "dateline" a close look up at these shoes. an identical pair that was a backup. they had lower heels. so that diana who was 5'10" wouldn't tower over prince charles in her tiara. on the suede soles he added a romantic bit of detail etched in gold. >> little heart in the sole. >> he had to adjust the shoes as diana lost weight. her waste would shrink from 29
inches to 23 1/2 between the first and last fittings for her wedding dress. david emanuel wasn't surprised. >> like any bride, diana had slimmed down. most brides do, whether it is excitement, racing around. by which time, we now have a full-blown runway model girl. >> seven days before the wedding diana's ensemble was nearly complete. she said her thank-yous and good-byes to many on the team in her own down to earth way. >> she stood at the top of the stairs and kind of took it a deep breath. pulled herself together and said let's hope i don't fall on my ass and off she went. >> coming up. >> she said, gosh, there's a lot of fuss for a wedding, isn't it? >> the biggest day of their lives. not everything went according to. >> first thought was, unmade fa
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♪ since their engagement william and kate have been making more and more public appearances together to the delight of the british public and the growing media pack trailing them. >> oh, yes. >> it's all preparation for their big close-up on april 29th when an estimated 1 billion people worldwide could be watching them tie the knot. a million tourists are expected to head to london to get a firsthand glimpse of the excitement. back in 1981, those crowds were already in place on the eve of the big day as anticipation for the wedding of the century reached a fever pitch.
that night all eyes were on prince charles and lady diana spencer as they gave an interview. >> a lot of work going on here at the palace. >> oh, yes, and all these people have organized the wedding at a larger scale than usual. it's tremendous. it really is. >> they also addressed the frenzy of media attention focused on them. >> it is i suppose one of the most important things you'll have to adjust to. >> of course, it is. >> and prince charles has been a great help to you. >> tower of strength. >> gracious. >> i have to say that because you're sitting there. >> later that night an enormous fireworks display lit up london before a crowd of 500,000 people and members of the royal family. diana did not attend the wedding eve celebrations. she was out of view here at clarence house home of the queen mother. that night she received a gift from the groom, a ring engraved with the prince of wales' feathers and the message i'm proud of you.
diana rose at 6:30 a.m. on her wedding day and the emanuels arrived to help her get ready. did she seem happy? >> gloriously happy. i've never seen and she was looking forward to it. it was going to be a big -- a long day. >> barbara daly was on hand to do diana's makeup. >> i put all my makeup out and she sat down and we just did it. she did say to me at one point which i thought was really lovely, she said gosh, it's a lot of fuss for a wedding, isn't it? one girl. >> a lot of fuss, indeed. inside st. paul's cathedral the 2,500 guests were gathering including kings and queens and heads of state from around the world. representing the u.s. was first lady nancy reagan. outside the royal procession to the cathedral got under way as queen elizabeth traveled with prince philip, the groom dressed in his royal navy uniform made his way in a coach with prince andrew.
back at clarence house the bride was just about ready. >> i thought she was breathtaking. i thought she looked great. >> i walked with her to the carriage and she went in and leaned over and said is everything okay and she said yes and gave my hand a little squeeze like that and then that was it. >> and off she went in the glass coach. it was a storybook moment as the 20-year-old bride rode with her father earl spencer along the parade route to st. paul's cathedral. eve pollard was a wedding commentator for the bbc. >> when you saw her in that glass carriage, that was your first view of her in the dress. >> so exciting. >> do you remember what you thought. >> well, the most interesting thing that i thought, the thing that caught my eye very quickly, a bit of sun came in that window and she had little sequins on her veil. i had never seen that before.
i mean believe it or not that was really original and it caught the light and she looked happy. she looked really happy. >> 600,000 people crowded the streets of london that morning. many of them had camped out overnight to try to get the best perch to see the bride's arrival here at st. paul's in all her royal splendor. they were not disappointed. after all the work and top secret planning, the world finally saw diana in the astonishing romantic wedding dress the emanuels had created. but while diana was glowing and radiant, the dress itself wasn't exactly behaving. >> that was the most amazing moment because, of course, here we are and she got out of the carriage and the first thought was unmade bed. i mean this dress was so crumpled. >> the emanuels sprang into action in view of the cameras
and you're running around her behind her trying to straighten it out. >> yes, she got to the top. i straightened out the bodice, the face veil and then i gave her the bouquet of flowers because there's a huge bouquet and as i whispered a few words. >> and what were those. >> i'm not telling those. secret. you can't know everything and off she glided down the aisle. >> diana's walk down that lengthy aisle with her father lasted a full 3 1/2 minutes with all the attendants trailing including 5-year-old clemmy hambro. >> they said do not tread on the train. >> 25-foot train so i remember just staring at my feet the whole way up the aisle, trying not to tread headline her train by i'm glad to say didn't happen. >> we'd all been waiting months for this moment. >> mary robertson and her husband had traveled back to london to see their nanny get married. what was that like. >> it was can you believe we're here? can you believe this is diana? a year ago she was our
baby-sitter. >> with the bride in place, the ceremony could begin. >> dearly beloved, we are gathered here -- >> as the dean of st. paul's gave his invocation, the groom not a man known to show his emotions wiped away tears. then the archbishop of canterbury delivered the vows of marriage. >> charles phillip arthur george, wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, and forsaking all others keep thee only unto her, so long as you both shall live? >> i wail. >> diana frances, wilt thou have this man for her wedded husband and forsaking all others keeping only to him so long as you both shall live? >> i will. >> later in her one misstep of the day, she mixed up prince
charles' names. >> i diana frances. >> i diana frances. >> take thee charles philip arthur george. >> take thee charles arthur philip arthur. >> was it a big deal? >> it wasn't a big deal. she probably never even knew the other names until the day before. it is a long handful, isn't it? >> i remember her when i was just sort of checking out her makeup and she said do you think anybody heard me? >> and i said, oh, no. probably not. >> i pronounce that they be man and wife together. >> lady diana spencer was now diana, princess of wales as the voices of the st. paul's boys' choir filled the great dome of the cathedral. >> there's the most wonderful music. there's the most beautiful singing. >> for me singing at it was, of course, extraordinary. >> prince charles himself had planned the spectacular musical program which featured the acclaimed operatic soprano kire
te kanawa performing his famous opera. >> i took the music and thought i cannot make a mistake so for safety sake they made me a book to put the music on and put the royal fitters on so i could watch the music just in case i got nervous which i was anyway. >> it was regal. it was romantic and overwhelming to all who were there. >> to have a seat actually inside st. paul's at the time was, you know, quite fantastic. for me personally i was just watching a wonderful wedding and trying not to try. >> here is the stuff of which fairy tales are made. >> i think when the archbishop referred to it as a fairy tale, he was reflecting what a lot of people thought and hoped. >> throughout the ceremony diana had appeared to be a bit nervous but as the processional rang out to pomp and circumstance with
her veil now pulled back, her jitters seemed to fade. she has finally a smile on her face. >> she does have a smile and she's very much more relaxed as she walks back with him and then there's a magic moment when they come out of the church and she looks up and you can see it hits her with all the force it can that the noise and the bells ringing out and the people and she's done it. that's the other thing, the wedding is over. she's done it. she's appeared. it's all fine. >> coming up, that kiss romantic and a bit of a surprise. >> we have never had a bride and groom giving one another a kiss publicly. >> when "dateline" continues. and my itchy eyes took refuge from the dust in here and the pollen outside.
some modern twists. today's bride will arrive in a car, no glass coach this time but after the wedding she and the prince will travel by carriage back to buckingham palace. much like the royal couple of 1981. back then the new princess of wales greeted the hundreds of thousands who had camped out all night to see her as well as the hundreds of millions watching at home. >> and at that point she wasn't looking quite so shy. she was proud. she was a married woman. she was now setting out on this extraordinary new life that providence had given her. >> when the two arrived that 25-foot train of diana's wedding dress still got in the way a bit. now it was time for that tricky part of any wedding day, the photographs. little clemmy was brought back. >> my legs were very tired, and i slip. and this is obviously very embarrassing for me because, you know, it's a big day and diana sweetly comes and helps me get up and she asks me, did you bump your bottom? and i said, no, i bumped my head. i was so embarrassed that she thought i could have bumped my bottom. but i didn't. i bumped my head.
>> this intimate moment captured by photographer patrick litchfield. >> the photograph shows her comforting me. it's kind of a special photograph because it shows a very spontaneous moment in a very polished and manicured day and shows a very human side of i think everybody involved. >> as a child i imagine that's probably your strongest memory, right. >> yes. >> barbara daly came to refresh diana's makeup for the photos. litchfield caught the two in these snapshots. he went on to take the official photographs of the wedding party. >> patrick was amazing. i think he had a whistle to get attention to get everybody looking forward and, of course, children don't play by the rules. you know, they sit down, they get up but they were great. >> the family struck their poses for the group portraits but after a rigidly formal day, the bride and groom loosened up a bit. >> she just sat down and i was -- happened to be standing with patrick and i just turned around and i said look, and he said, ah, grab the camera.
man the moment and got these great shots of them sitting down with, you know all the dress billowing out which were lovely. >> now the royal couple could relax. well, almost. they had one more command performance. ever since the days of queen victoria, the royal family has gathered here on the balcony of buckingham palace after weddings and other occasions but this time the customary hand waving gave way to an unexpected romantic moment. hundreds of thousands now crowded in front of the palace as the wedding party assembled on the balcony clemmy hambro had a spot up front. >> my strongest memory was being very excited. i do remember the noise again as you sort of walked out, this amazing sort of rush of people but my most exciting abiding memory was i had a little box to stand on. >> so you could see. >> so i could see. >> the crowd was cheering for him to kiss the bride. prince charles was not going to
let them down. >> to see the prince and princess kiss on the balcony was a terrific expression of love. wonderfully spontaneous. >> we've never had a bride and groom strangely enough giving one another a kiss publicly and this was the first one and, of course, that's an iconic picture, isn't it? >> how very forward of them. >> well, gosh, bride and groom kissing, wow. >> the prince and princess returned inside for a breakfast the queen hosted for them to top it off the staff revealed the wedding cake made to her specific. >> she wanted a bridal cake. a typical british bridal cake. that's what it was. >> well, typical for a princess that is. david avery, a chef in the royal navy spent 14 weeks making the enormous fruitcake with marzipan icing and a dash of navy rum, the five-tier cake was 5'4" tall
decorated with various insignias of the royal couple. >> the recipe came from my mother. it was a recipe that i had used for years and adding bits and taking things out so i got a cake that i knew that was nice and moist and rich. >> it would top off a perfect day of pomp and circumstance. now the just married royal couple could head off to their honeymoon. coming up, reality deflates the fantasy. will the new royal couple find a happily ever after? >> i think they're off to a great start. >> why this wedding may be very different from the last. and coming up friday on "dateline" -- >> we got in the car and we never went back. >> she was four when she left for a sleepover. she would never come home again. >> my life completely changed from that point on. completely. >> kidnapped by a friend of her mother, she spent years living on the run.
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♪ the majority of people in this country were willing, they wanted something and they said -- >> they wanted the fairy tale. >> i think so and i think we delivered the fairy tale and for however long it lasted. >> we know of course, that it didn't last. prince charles and diana's marriage would play out in the press as a royal soap opera with scandalous infidelities on both sides.
diana would later say she had seen warning signs from the beginning. after all, camilla parker bowles had been in the church for the wedding. diana spoke of the troubled marriage in an interview with martin bashir in 1995. >> i remember talking to her about her wedding and the honeymoon and she told me that she believed that prince charles was speaking to camilla during their honeymoon. >> divorce and diana's tragic death would follow. but memories of their romantic wedding still linger the world over. 750 million people saw the festivities on television. for those who saw it all up close, that summer's day in 1981 was something special to behold. >> even as a kid, did you sense that there was something -- something in the air, something different. >> i think i felt a great atmosphere of happiness and i
think that was from everyone involved in the day. >> it really was the wedding of the century and no question about that and i think everyone was just thrilled to be part of it. you know, whether you were a diplomat or a relative or whatever, it was an unforgettable -- i don't think there ever will be another wedding that has quite the same excitement and appeal. >> maybe not, but april 29th will certainly have its share of pageantry. prince william and kate middleton have chosen westminster abbey, the more traditional site for royal marriages including that of prince william's grandmother. robert jobson is an nbc news contributor and author of the book "william & kate." >> i think the most important thing about this wedding is there's a blueprint for it, it's going to be 1947. they're trying to avoid the comparisons to the '81 wedding, quite understandably. this was a fairy tale that became a nightmare.
they don't want any similarities to that, but want to be seen more based upon the most successful long marriage in royal history which is the queen and prince philip. >> many expect this wedding to be a much simpler affair. fewer guests, probably no 25-foot train, but just like 30 years ago, hundreds of millions will be watching. of course, the big reveal of the day will be that wedding dress, if the secret holds, british papers have pointed to designers sarah burton of alexander mcqueen and bruce oldfield one of diana's favorites as possibilities, both have said they're not involved. given what we know about her taste, what would you guess for the wedding dress? >> my guess will be although i would love to see her in a fishtail because i think she's got the figure for it, it'll be long, it'll be beautiful. >> no 25-foot train?
>> she'll have a train. she's got enough bridesmaids and page boys but it won't be that long, and i think it'll be exquisite and very, very simple but very stylish. >> at kate's side will be her sister pippa as maid of honor while prince harry will be on hand as his brother's best man. but there is one person, of course, who won't be there. do you think diana will be a presence in this wedding. >> oh, i think she probably will be. i mean there will be inevitable comparisons. i'm sure william will be thinking about her all the time. >> and no doubt kate will be thinking about her, as well. >> i would love to have met her and -- and she's obviously she's an inspirational woman to look up to. >> william and kate have invited a number of diana's friends including elton john and representatives from her favorite charities, but her presence will be most felt
through the groom himself and that ring he placed on the bride's finger. what are your hopes for william and kate? >> i hope they'll live happily ever after. i hope they'll have a bunch of children. i just -- i hope that they'll always be a team working together and i think they're off to a great start. >> so william and kate, maybe they'll get the fairy tale ending? >> yes, i hope they do. very much so. >> the world will be watching. we'd like to invite you to stay with us for complete coverage of the wedding festivities. "dateline" will have a special very preview sunday april 24th, 7:00 p.m. eastern time. coverage of the big day itself begins friday, april 29th at 4:00 a.m. with an early edition of the "today" show and then join us at